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7 months since Oct 7, UN Security Council holds first meeting entirely dedicated to Israeli hostages in Gaza

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during arria-formula meeting at UN Headquarters in New York on May 16, 2024. (Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA)

The UN Security Council held its first meeting entirely dedicated to the Israeli hostages held by the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza on Thursday after the United States initiated the session.

Hamas terrorists abducted more than 250 hostages from Israel on Oct. 7. The IDF estimates there are still 130 Israeli and dual-citizen hostages remaining in Gaza but it is unknown how many of them are still alive. The deteriorating condition of the hostages intensifies the urgency for swift action to secure their release. 

Addressing the UN Security member state representatives, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield emphasized that 19 countries, including the U.S. and Israel, had demanded the release of the remaining hostages. The UN envoy further argued that President Joe Biden is personally committed to the release of the hostages in Gaza. 

“This is a responsibility that President Biden feels, to his core, and he’s committed to seeing through,” Thomas-Greenfield stated

“Taking hostages is cowardly — a cowardly tactic designed to instill fear, manipulate governments, and advance nefarious agendas. It violates basic principles of humanity,” she added.

The U.S. ambassador blasted Hamas for kidnapping hostages and holding them in Gaza since the Oct. 7 terror attack.

“Yet Hamas and other terrorist groups have not relented. So today, let us again demand Hamas release all remaining hostages,” she asserted. 

“To put it simply: It would save lives on all sides,” the U.S. ambassador added, likely referring to a potential Egyptian-mediated truce. 

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan urged UN Security Council (UNSC) members to condemn Hamas for taking hostages.

"The council must take immediate steps against Hamas if the abductees are really important to it. It must make it clear to the residents of Gaza that Hamas is responsible for their suffering and must condemn it and recognize it as a terrorist organization," Erdan said during his speech on Thursday.

"Only in this way will a clear message be sent to all terrorist organizations, that kidnapping civilians is an intolerable crime."

He added that if the UNSC does not take action, it communicates a message to terrorists that taking hostages is acceptable.

"I slammed the council: How are you able to call for a ceasefire, before you have done everything in your power to bring our abductees home?" Erdan said.

"What pressure did the council exert on the Hamas terrorists? Why has the UN not yet condemned the massacre and demanded that Hamas allow the Red Cross to visit the abductees? And why were no sanctions imposed on the Hamas leadership? Unfortunately, there are no answers. Because the council did nothing for our abductees!" he said.

Last month, 18 countries, including the United States, demanded the immediate release of the remaining hostages in Gaza.

"We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and Gaza now for over 200 days. They include our citizens," read the letter. In addition to the United States, the letter was signed by Great Britain, Poland, France, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Austria, Hungary, Colombia, Thailand, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Argentina. 

On Oct. 7 Hamas terrorists brutally kidnapped an Israeli citizen, Shoshan Haran, her daughter and two grandchildren. On Thursday, Haran told the UN Security Council that her 3-year-old granddaughter continues to suffer from her time in captivity even after returning home to Israel. 

“Three weeks after we were released, Yahel only whispers, too afraid to make a noise. She hid from everyone, too afraid to go outside. She wet her bed and had nightmares, too afraid she may be captured again,” Haran said. 

“We cannot allow the normalization of this unprecedented form of terrorism — mass hostage-taking of unarmed civilians, women, children, elderly,” Haran told the UN Security member states. 

The visibly affected South Korean deputy ambassador Sagjin Kim choked up during his speech while speaking about the American-Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin

However, any potential action by the UN Security Council against Hamas would likely be vetoed by Russia and China. These two permanent council members hold veto power and have been hostile towards Israel in the ongoing conflict with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas.

The Russian diplomat Georgiy Barsukov blasted Washington’s initiative to discuss the Israeli hostages “when there are many indications that genocide is being committed against Palestinians in Gaza – and when the Israelis are defying the overwhelming majority of the international community and launching an operation in Rafah, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.”

Barsukov's accusation of genocide against Israel comes just days after the United Nations released revised data, showing a significant reduction (50%) in the reported deaths of women and children in Gaza.

Neither Russia nor China have condemned Hamas for massacring Israeli civilians while hiding behind Gazan civilians – a double war crime under international law. 

Watch the full UN Security Council session here.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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